Superhero team-up movies can be awfully rough on the heroes’ love interests. When Thor returned to Earth for the first Avengers movie, he didn’t even bother to call main squeeze Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), and, by the time Avengers: Age of Ultron rolled around, Tony Stark’s lady love Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) had been snipped from the screen, too. But if Portman and Paltrow ever decide to start a support group for superhero girlfriends who face dwindling prospects, at least they’ll be able to add a new member: five-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams, whose Lois Lane is given some of the silliest, most superfluous subplots in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Did Adams know what she was getting into? When she signed onto 2013’s Man of Steel, it was a career move that made sense: She’d be playing Lois Lane — one of the most iconic comic-book characters ever, and no pushover, either — and she was guaranteed to be the second lead in a major new franchise, which meant both job security and plenty of creative promise.
That isn’t how it’s worked out for her. Instead of a Man of Steel 2 where Lois would remain front and center, director Zack Snyder decided to sidestep a direct sequel by bringing in Batman (Ben Affleck) to serve as Superman’s co-lead, crowding the screen with characters like Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), and teasing even more superheroes and supervillains to come. With all those characters in play — and supporting Man of Steel players like Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, and Laurence Fishburne returning — there isn’t room for Adams to do much in the movie, and what she’s doing feels like a time-wasting afterthought.
Consider her meager subplots. For most of the movie, Lois Lane is investigating a mysterious bullet she recovered from an interview-gone-wrong in Africa, and, in cutaways that continually sap the film’s momentum, she tries to pressure a general (Harry Lennix) to go on the record tying those bullets to Lex Luthor. What effect does this story line have on the film’s main plot? Absolutely none: At the same time, Batman is investigating several much more exciting crimes that can be pinned to Lex, and most of those actually bear fruit. By the time Lois has amassed enough evidence of bullet-related wrongdoing, Lex is already engaging in the much more high-level malfeasance of creating a goddamn space monster that can kill Superman. Your piddly bullet matters not, Lois!
Essentially, that entire subplot is a stall, but things get even more dire for Adams as the action ramps up. Bereft of superpowers, Lois can’t contribute much to the movie’s main brawls, and what little she does do is baffling. After Batman and Superman have mostly concluded their punch-em-up, Lois darts in and grabs Batman’s Kryptonite spear before it can weaken Superman further. Good! This is a good idea. But Lois then throws the spear into a puddle (why?) before somehow realizing a few minutes later that she’d better go back and get that spear (ugh) for a fight against the supervillain Doomsday that she is barely aware of (huh?). It’s bad enough that all Adams gets to play here is “Gotta get rid of that spear” and “Uh, I should not have done that”; it’s worse when Lois starts drowning as she tries to retrieve that spear, and needs to be rescued, for the third time,by Superman. I know that Lois Lane is occasionally reduced to being a damsel in distress, but this damsel’s more of a dunce.
Only Lois’s love for Clark seems to have any sort of thematic connection to the rest of the story, but even this runner seems haphazardly conceived. Since the events of Man of Steel, colleagues Lois and Clark have moved in together and appear to be on the precipice of marriage; meanwhile, Lois, a famous journalist, is still making out with Superman, a famous superhero, every chance she gets, in public. Has no one bothered to connect those dots, including Snyder? Or do people just assume that Lois Lane has an insatiable thing going with two very similar-looking hunks? (As her Daily Planet editor Perry White would say, “Headline: Lois Lane Has Gotta Have It!”) Meanwhile, though Adams labors mightily to strike sparks with her scene partner Henry Cavill, there’s little romantic heat between the two of them.
I want more for Amy Adams than this, but I fear that the bad kind of “more” is all that Snyder has in store. From here, the narrative will introduce even more characters for Justice League Part 1, and Lois Lane is likely to feel the squeeze. There is a tease of the upcoming movie in the middle of this one, and I should note Lois is mentioned in it: When Bruce Wayne is vision-visited by a time-traveling Flash, the speedster tells him that Lois is “the key” to what’s to come in Justice League. I wonder, though, if that line isn’t Snyder’s sop to Adams: Elsewhere in the vision, an irate future Superman heavily implies that Lois has died. At this point, that could be considered a mercy kill.